‘Show courage in your ministry,’ Bishop tells priests at Chrism Mass
BLACKWOOD — “Follow the example of Father Stanley Francis Rother and “show courage in your ministry,” Bishop Dennis Sullivan urged his brother priests last Tuesday, April 11 at the Diocese of Camden’s annual Chrism Mass, here at Our Lady of Hope Parish’s Saint Agnes Church.
The liturgy, always held in South Jersey on the Tuesday of Holy Week, is a time for the bishop to bless the oils to be used in the diocese through the sacraments in the next year: the oil of the sick, the oil of catechumens and the Sacred Chrism.
Diocesan priests, deacons, women and men religious, and lay faithful filled the church.
Before the priests’ annual renewal of their priestly vows, Bishop Sullivan shared with all gathered the life of Father Stanley Rother, an American Catholic and priest from Oklahoma who, while performing missionary work in Guatemala, was gunned down in 1981 during the country’s civil war.
He went to Santiago Atitlan in 1968 on assignment from the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City. He helped the people there build a small hospital, school and its first Catholic radio station. He was beloved by the locals, who called him “Padre Francisco.”
He was gunned down at the age 46 in the rectory of his church in Santiago Atitlan.
Declared a martyr for the Catholic Church, he will be beatified this September by Pope Francis and become the first American-born priest to receive such recognition.
Calling Father Rother “the shepherd who did not run” from violence but remained with his flock amidst the turmoil, Bishop Sullivan urged his priests to be “dedicated, and serve with love.”
He already knows they are doing good work: “I know you roll up your sleeves and do a full weeks’ work,” he said. “You find joy in the priesthood, and do your ministry with the fervor of a missionary.”
Turning his words to all of the faithful in the pews, Bishop Sullivan urged them all on to discipleship, days before Easter.
“Let the splendor of holiness shine through the world,” he exclaimed, and like the oils in front of him on the altar will soon do throughout South Jersey, “perfume the world with the sweet odor of Christ.”